An Aquarium
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An Aquarium

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  52 ratings  ·  11 reviews
From “Abalone” to “Zooxanthellae,” Jeffrey Yang’s debut poetry collection is full of the exhilarating colors and ominous forms of aquatic life. But deeper under the surface are his observations on war, environmental degradation, language, and history, as a father—troubled by violence and human mismanagement of the world—offers advice to a newborn son.
Paperback, 63 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Graywolf Press
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(showing 1-30 of 101)
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Karlo Mikhail
A mixed bag where poems that are plainly pointless and banal, senseless poems that are infected by a post-structuralist inspired incomprehensibility, and poems that are memorably playful, politically-charged, and interesting inhabit one fascinating collection.

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Ted Burke
The book's conceit, an appealing one , is to write a series of poems on the fish and other ocean creatures one would come across in an aquarium, in alphabetical order. It's a sort of involute indexing of whims and amusements that would soon get ragged with repetition in heavier hands, but Yang's touch is light , and varies his approach , creature to creature, and what his musings land on, of course, are continued inquiry into how we know the world.

We mirror, we model, we mimic, we claim credit...more
With the creatures in an aquarium, Yang combines alphabet with science, war, metaphor, religion, philosophy, translation, politics, and colors; he spins the fabulous into the realistic, the hilarious into the horrible, and the scientific becomes emotional. Like a scholar with nitrogen narcosis, like the son of a chemist and mystic, he culls materials from diverse spheres then places them in the tank.

When I enter a Yang poem, I have no idea how I might exit. In “Octopus,” he starts with a belief...more
An amazing collection of short, but excellent poems--mostly following a theme of fish in an aquarium. The deviations from that theme are enjoyable for the most part. But it's the connections between and reflections on fish (or their nature) and some aspect (our habits, the realities we've created in the world) of humanity that are great and often stunning. The Seahorse poem being one of the best examples--the line about protective covering is tremendous. The only thing preventing this book from...more
"One feels a sainte-terrer walking
the starfish shore. The soul
delighteth in decussate symmetry
dwells quincuncially. WIthout a word
prayer elevates the heart. Star-
fish have neither brain nor heart.
Perhaps they are pure intellect of
soul pure coincidence pure
feeling clinging to the rocks of Paradise.
Far from living water the soul desiccates."
Dec 10, 2008 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This is such a smart, inventive, entertaining collection of poems into which one can get lost, surface again, & then dive in for more.
The most recent book I bought. The world is an aquarium and the view is exhilarating. This book can easily go straight to the five stars.
sweet, funny, deep, multilingual, punctuated punchy anarcho-politics, channels Han Shan: luminous like wet grass on a hi altitude cliff.
I sank my fishy fangs into this thing, and like a good girl I had Google in my lap to help me on.
Oct 22, 2011 Paul added it
Review at asianamlitfans.
hooray for jeffrey!
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Jeffrey Yang is a poet, translator, and editor at New Directions Publishing Corp. He translated the Qian Jia Shi under the title Rhythm 226, and his poetry has appeared in the Nation, the Paris Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Beacon, New York."
More about Jeffrey Yang...
Birds, Beasts, and Seas: Nature Poems from New Directions Vanishing-Line Time of Grief: Mourning Poems Some Kind of Beautiful Signal June Fourth Elegies

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